Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Precious Gems

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10
            In “What the Heck is a Gimcrack?” I promised to let readers decide for themselves if the subject matter of a post was gem or gimcrack. But from time to time, I’m going to write about ladies I know to be true gems, with value “far above rubies.”
            A couple of years ago, our church learned of a Methodist ministry in Oklahoma City called Exodus House, an apartment complex which provides shelter to ex-prisoners as soon as they’re released. It gives them a chance to get back on their feet—to find employment and establish financial stability. And it provides them with caring, spiritual support, something they’re not likely to find if they return to their pre-prison environs.
            The complex that houses Exodus House must be at least forty years old, so needless to say it’s a little worse for wear. But through the efforts of many Methodist church groups, the apartments are cleaned, updated, and made livable.
            Our church committed to help with one of these updates and my interest in this project allowed me to get better acquainted with two remarkable ladies, Kathy Sewell and Laura Belden. I knew Kathy and Laura on a casual basis before, having had their daughters in class. But after working with them, I now know them to be “virtuous” women.
            With a crew of dedicated volunteers, Kathy and Laura worked tirelessly to transform that first apartment into a beautiful, tasteful home for two very grateful occupants. Those occupants are now well on their way to leading lives as transformed as their residence. When that project was finished, Kathy and Laura accepted the challenge of re-doing another apartment, which became occupied this past April 19 by two gentlemen.
            Being humble women “who feareth the Lord,” Kathy and Laura will be quick to give all credit to God, and, of course, this is true. But I know God’s love is often shown through acts as  unglamorous as grouting a bathroom floor or tearing out a nasty kitchen sink. God’s love is shown through the efforts of willing servants—or “gems”—such as Kathy and Laura.  
Kathy - You have to admire a woman who owns her own toolbelt!

Laura - You can tell she was excited about having her picture made.

Apartment #2 - "Before" pictures

Apartment #2 - "After" pictures

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wish Upon this Star...

and you might win it!

            I’ve wanted to do a give-away on my blog for some time, and I’ve known exactly what I want to give away—a bracelet like the one featured in my book. So I began a search for the perfect star charm. Believe it or not, star charms are rare. I found ladybugs, dragonflies, hearts, angels, keys, four-leaf clovers, even an armadillo. But few stars. And none of them really “spoke” to me.

            Then, not a half mile from where I live in Edmond, an enchanting store called The Vintage Pearl opened. This store carries exquisite hand-stamped jewelry, and it was there I found a lustrous star charm of hammered silver. Perfect! I added a little Swarovski crystal charm because anyone who knows me also knows I like “bright, shiny things.”
            The discovery of that star reminded me of another one—the REAL star my fellow Inklings gave me in celebration of my book. The poor thing still doesn’t have a name because I’ve been trying to think of something clever and original. But having never owned a star before, I’m not very good at naming them. So I decided to ask for help and tie the request to my give-away.
            Here’s the deal. By the April 30, I want a name for my star which must be feeling a bit neglected about now. If you submit a name or make a comment, your name goes into a drawing for the bracelet. If you aren’t a member of my blog and you sign up, your name goes in. If you do both, I’ll put your name in twice. (Twice is the limit, even if you suggest more than one name.) If you’re currently a member, your name is already in once, and if you make a comment or suggest a name, I’ll put it in again. Everyone will have one or two chances to win, even if you—like me—stink at thinking up star names.
            I hope you’re not totally confused at this point and will give me lots of ideas. As much as I would love to wear this bracelet myself, I’m also looking forward to getting lots of new followers and comments.   



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Welcome to Master Brooks's Bookses

Master Brooks's Bookses
My grandson Brooks has consented to assist me with my blog from time to time by reviewing books. An avid listener, Brooks enjoys all types of literature from classics like Dorothy Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny to more modern releases such as Sandra Boynton’s Perfect Piggies.
Today Brooks reviews P. D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go! (To establish the appropriate literary mood, hum a few bars of the Masterpiece Theatre theme song before reading the review.)
“I find Go, Dog. Go! a delightful combination of  whimsical pictures, rhyming words, and  rollicking pace. I’ve re-titled it Go! Go! Go! because it rhymes with “No! No! No!” which has lately become one of my favorite phrases, accompanied by the requisite extended index finger. Deceptively simple, at first glance Go, Dog. Go! appears to be a lighthearted, children’s book. But it is much more. I discover new insights each time I hear it read—which is about 6 or 7 times every single night. I give this book an enthusiastic five-out-of-five goldfish.”

If you have children’s books you would like Brooks to review, please suggest them in a comment.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Permission to Piddle

             When people ask me how I like retirement, I say, “I love it. I’ve finally found my calling.” I then laugh like I’m joking, but I’m really not.  The work-a-day world with all of its deadlines and pressures, never quite suited me. Retirement has freed me to pursue my passion: piddling.

            I would’ve made a fine professional piddler, but sadly no such job exists. Not because there’s no demand for piddlers, but because the term itself is an oxymoron. Professional implies payment is involved. And once that happens, piddling moves into the realm of work.  
            In the Feb. 2012 issue of Southern Living magazine, Rick Bragg’s article, “The Fine Art  of Piddling,” defines piddling in terms of what it is not: “It is not rest...but then neither is it work, something that one toils at, sweats at, something one needs a break from.... It is certainly not something for which one should ever be paid...”
            I hesitate to embellish the work of my favorite southern writer, but I’m doing it anyway. I feel I can make valuable contributions into the understanding and acceptance of piddling.
            To begin, while Rick makes a distinction only between piddling and work, I contend there are three categories concerning use of time: Work, Piddling, and Complete Waste of Time. My definitions are as follows:
            Work—Something that has to be done; it can be enjoyable or not; it isn’t always for money but often is. NOTE: I recommend that to derive full satisfaction from piddling, all pressing work (like a writing deadline or cleaning a fridge full of mold cultures) be completed first. Nothing pulls the pleasure from piddling like pressure. (Sorry about that line, but I couldn’t resist. I find p’s lend themselves especially well to alliteration. Piddle with it, you’ll see what I mean.)
            Piddling—Those things we do merely for the satisfaction/pleasure of doing them; they are often simple, routine tasks which allow our minds to roam as we do them; they don’t have to be done; there is always at least one positive result, even if it’s solely enjoyment. Finally—Rick and I are on the same page here—there can never be monetary compensation.
            Complete Waste of Time (CWT)—Things we do that we neither have to do nor do we enjoy them; they bring no lasting, positive results and often leave us worse off than before we did them. I hear you asking, “So why would anyone do this?” Good question. I ask myself this every time I watch a reality-TV program or The View.
            Placing activities into one of these categories is a highly individualized matter. Like gems and gimcracks, what is one person’s piddling is another’s work or waste of time. For example, for me, ironing my husband’s boxer shorts—yes, there are women who do this—would be CWT right up there with Kardashian-watching. But if either of those activities gives you pleasure, consider it piddling. (I don’t think they can be called work by any stretch of the imagination.)
            Sometimes an activity can cross over from one category to another. I have a vine swag around my front door which I decorate for various holidays and seasons. I used to enjoy it. Not so much anymore. What was once piddling is now CWT. The swag is coming down.
            I hope I’ve shed some light on the topic of piddling, as it is of utmost importance we preserve this hallowed use of time. Our survival depends on it. I’m certain some of the world’s greatest ideas and inventions have been the result of piddling. Give yourself permission today to indulge in some soul-satisfying, guilt-free piddling. I know I’m going to. In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing as I write this post.
Piddling took my ten-dollar garage-sale settee from this...
to this!

Leave a comment: What’s your piddling passion? (Again with the alliteration!)